Friday, December 23, Eyewitness News at 11

11:38 PM, Dec 23, 2011   |    comments
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GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
FRANK MALLOY HAS THE NIGHT OFF.

THE HOLIDAY TRAVEL PERIOD IS OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY... AND MORE AMERICANS ARE HITTING THE ROAD THIS YEAR.
THE AMERICAN AUTO ASSOCIATION PREDICTS THAT THERE WILL BE NEARLY 92 MILLION AMERICANS TRAVELING 50 MILES OR MORE DURING THE HOLIDAYS.
THAT'S UP ABOUT ONE AND A HALF PERCENT FROM LAST YEAR.

FOR GROOME TRANSPORTATION IN MACON THIS MEANS BIG BUSINESS.
GROOME'S DIRECTOR LAURA MCCONNELL SAYS THEY'VE INCREASED THE NUMBER OF SHUTTLES .
TRAVELERS SAY RIDING A SHUTTLE TO ATLANTA'S HARTSFIELD JACKSON AIRPORT TAKES SOME OF THE STRESS OUT OF HOLIDAY TRAVEL.

Turquoise Blue, Dublin: Oh because it's more convenient as far as the gas and you don't have to do the travelling on the road.
Laura McConnell, Dir. Groome Transportation: (1:45) Since We don't take reservations we have to make sure that if one shuttle fills we have another driver and another van, ready to go immediately behind it.

MC CONNELL SAYS BECAUSE OF THIS YEAR'S HIGH DEMAND -- THEY WILL BE OPEN FOR THE FIRST TIME ON CHRISTMAS DAY -- RUNNING SHUTTLES TO AND FROM ATLANTA.


AS YOU HIT THE ROAD THIS WEEKEND... THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS DOING ITS PART TO MAKE YOUR TRIP EASIER.
THEY'RE SUSPENDING ALL CONSTRUCTION TO KEEP TRAFFIC FLOWING AS SMOOTHLY AS POSSIBLE.
THAT INCLUDES LANE CLOSURES AND ANY PAVING PROJECTS.
CREWS WILL PICK UP THEIR PROJECTS AGAIN NEXT TUESDAY MORNING.


IF YOUR HOLIDAY TRAVEL TAKES YOU THROUGH THE ATLANTA AREA... YOU MAY NOTICE HUNDREDS OF DIGITAL BILLBOARDS ADVERTISING DIFFERENT SERVICES.
SOON... THANKS TO ONE GROUP'S PARTNERSHIP WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION... SEVERAL OF THOSE WILL SERVE AS WARNING SYSTEMS NEXT TIME WINTER WEATHER HITS.
PAUL CRAWLEY WITH OUR SISTER STATION... W-X-I-A IN ATLANTA HAS THE STORY.

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[ELECTRONIC BILLBOARDS USED FOR WEATHER WARNINGS-PK_WXIA-INFOEDIT35_20111222_155326.mxf]
[TAKE PKG]
{***PKG***}
[Notes:standup]
number ten i'm paul crawley....


[Notes:TRACK]
Remember Snowmageddon from last January...the 5 days when roads froze over, causing thousands of accidents?
Well the next time we get something like that, we'll have extra help from the digital world.
About 120 electronic billboards all over the metro area will be standing by to send us emergency messages about weather and road conditions.
[Notes:SOT-GARNER :12]
[Notes:at 2:09 on Electronic_Billboards_Weather_Warnings_Crawley_Raw_122111]
"We can post an image instantaneously to let drivers know maybe to get off the road or seek an alternate route immediately to help alleviate any traffic congestion on the roads."
[Notes:TRACK]
Joe Garner is past President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia.
Over the past few years they've already posted more than 250 public safety warnings on their digital billboards, everything from missing children to wanted fugitives.
Now they've offered similar free services to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Thanks to a computer and a flick of a switch, they will soon be able to change those electronic ads to electronic weather warnings.
[Notes:SOT-McKINNON :12]
[Notes:at 12:39 on same clip]
"During a winter weather event we want to use every viable option that we can to get the word out on what roads are closed, what roads are being worked on, those sorts of things and this will give us an opportunity to do that even more."
[Notes:TRACK]
Adding commercial electronic billboards to Georgia's weather warning network will more than double the number of signs the DOT will now have to tell us the next time something like this is headed our way
>>

THE OUTDOOR ADVERTISING ASSOCIATION AND GEORGIA D-O-T HOPE TO HAVE THE SYSTEM READY TO GO AROUND THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR.

ben gives three day forecast

THANKS BEN.. WE'LL TALK WITH YOU AGAIN IN JUST A FEW MINUTES.

IF YOU'RE ONE OF 18 MILLION AMERICANS WHO HAVEN'T STARTED HOLIDAY SHOPPING YET... YOU'RE IN LUCK.
MANY STORES WILL BE OPEN CHRISTMAS EVE TO CATER TO THAT 9-PERCENT OF SHOPPERS CHECKING OFF THEIR LAST MINUTE LISTS.
THOSE NUMBERS CAME FROM A SURVEY RELEASED BY THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION THIS WEEK... AND STORES WELCOME THE LATE RUSH.


<<nats- (4;42) "This is it. I love that."
OWNER OF KARATS AND KEEPSAKES JULIE EVANS EXCITEMENT...
(4:36) "This is cute.."
MORE THAN DOUBLES HER RELUCTANT CUSTOMER'S.
Chuck Franzago: (3:51) "I just want to get it over with."
CHUCK FRANZAGO IS HER TYPICAL LATE GIFT GIVING BUYER.
Julie Evans (9:40) "We see a lot of men. We see a lot of professional women who are very busy."
AND THEY'RE HELPING PUT THE SEASON OVER THE TOP.
nats- register
Juile Evans: (78:56) "I'm thrilled. Were over 2005 and 2006 levels. That was before the hit."
Lorra Lynch: "Traffic has picked-up for some retailers and some shoppers budgets, but for others the economy is still putting on the brakes."
(11:50) "I'm not used to looking up at empty shelves. It's been very depressing."
HELEN NOLAN AT FATHER GOOSE TOYS SAYS SHE COULDN'T STOCK HER STORE AS USUAL... KNOWING SHE'D SEE SLOW SALES.
Helen Nolan: (12:00) "All year, it's been very slow business. I presume all these toy places are having problems."
nats- register
AT CHI-CHESTERS ON VINEVILLE... RECIEPTS STAYED STEADY.... DESPITE CLOSING THEIR PHARMACY.
Yulynn Hightower: (20:15) "Just like they always have. Hopefully that's a good sign for the economy."
ALTHOUGH.. SOME LATE SHOPPERS SAY THEY'RE LOOKING FOR LIGHTER PRICE TAGS.
Brenda Burnett: (22:27) "It was a little less than it was last year."
BRENDA BURNETT SAYS SHE'S FOCUSED ON KEEPING HER BUDGET.
nats-
AND MEETING THE CHRISTMAS EVE STORE CLOSING DEADLINE.
nats-
>>


THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION REVISED ITS HOLIDAY SPENDING FORECAST THIS WEEK... SAYING THEY ORIGINALLY UNDERESTIMATED.
BASED ON GOOD NOVEMBER SALES... THEY BOOSTED THE PREDICTION TO ABOUT FOUR-PERCENT OVER LAST YEAR... OR MORE THAN 469-BILLION DOLLARS.




SOME BEST BUY SHOPPERS MAY NOT GET THEIR GIFTS UNTIL AFTER CHRISTMAS... IF THEY ORDERED THEM ONLINE.
THE ELECTRONICS COMPANY... ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO FILL ALL OF THEIR ONLINE ORDERS.
THEY BLAME AN OVERWHELMING DEMAND OF ORDERS PLACED IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER.
TODAY'S 13 WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HOLIDAY GIFT PACKAGE ARRIVE LATE?

SO FAR 50 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES
AND 50 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO

TO VOTE NOW.. VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT 13 WMAZ DOT COM.. AND LOOK FOR THE WEB POLL QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF OUR HOMEPAGE.


FOR MANY IN CENTRAL GEORGIA... THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS REALLY ALL ABOUT ONE THING -- CHRISTMAS.
BUT THERE ARE SOME FAMILIES WHERE THE PHRASE 'HAPPY HOLIDAYS'... REALLY COMES IN HANDY.
NAT POP 5 SECONDS
nats of jewish prayer

SHAW BULLINGTON'S FAMILY CELEBRATES BOTH CHRISTMAS AND HANNUKAH.
THAT'S BECAUSE SHE'S A CHRISTIAN... AND HER HUSBAND IS JEWISH.
SHE SAYS BEFORE THEIR CHILDREN WERE BORN... THEY MADE THE DECISION THAT THEIR FAMILY WOULD CELEBRATE BOTH RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS.
SHAW SAYS THEIR CHOICE WAS A LITTLE CONFUSING FOR SOME OF THEIR ADULT RELATIVES.
BUT SHE SAYS FOR HER FAMILY... IT ALL MAKES PERFECT SENSE.

Shaw Bullington:"I feel like we as one of the first interfaith couples in our family are constant reminders that it can work."
Cameron: "It means that everybody be happy."
Porter:"Hannukah because were Jewish and Christian and on Christmas it's Jesus' birthday."

TONIGHT THE BULLIGTONS CELEBRATED THE FOURTH NIGHT OF HANNUKAH WITH RICHARD'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY.
SHAW SAYS THEY'LL SPEND CHRISTMAS MORNING WITH HER PARENTS... OPENING PRESENTS AND CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REJECTED A SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER I-D LAW... SAYING IT MAKES IT HARDER FOR MINORITIES TO VOTE.
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL THOMAS PEREZ SAYS IF THE LAW PASSES.. THOUSANDS OF MINORITIES MAY BE UNABLE TO VOTE IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT I-D.
SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR... NIKKI HALEY.. SAYS SHE'LL FIGHT THE DEPARTMENTS RULING... CALLING IT OUTRAGEOUS.
THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MUST APPROVE CHANGES TO SOUTH CAROLINA'S ELECTION LAWS... BECAUSE THE STATE HAS A HISTORY OF FALING TO PROTECT THE VOTING RIGHTS OF BLACKS.
GEORGIA ALSO HAS A VOTER I-D LAW... THE IMPACT ON THAT LAW IS NOT CLEAR.



AFTER A DAY FULL OF SHOPPING... YOU MAY WANT SOMEONE ELSE DO THE COOKING FOR YOU.
WE'LL RUN DOWN WHICH EATING SPOTS... GOT THE BEST AND WORST SCORES WHEN THE HEALTH INSPECTOR STOPPED BY.
RESTAURANT RATINGS IS NEXT.

YOU MAY BE A BIT BUSY PLANNING FOR A BIG HOLIDAY WEEKEND... AND COOKING COULD BE ONE LAST THING ON YOUR TO-DO LIST.
BUT BEFORE PLANNING A DINNER OUT... YOU MAY WANT TO SEE HOW YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS DID... WHEN THE HEALTH INSPECTOR DROPPED IN.

WE'RE BACK IN BIBB COUNTY THIS WEEK...STARTING OFF WITH OUR LOWEST SCORES FIRST....

CHEDDAR'S CASUAL CAFE AT 40-40 RIVERSIDE DRIVE IN MACON... SCORED AN 86... THAT'S A B... COMING AFTER A 99... OR A... LAST TIME.

DOWNTOWN GRILL AT 5-62 MULBERRY STREET IN MACON... GOT AN 80... THAT'S A B.... FOLLOWING AN 85... ANOTHER B... ON THE INSPECTION BEFORE.

HUDDLE HOUSE AT 48-90 OCMULGEE EAST BOULEVARD IN MACON SCORED AN 86... A B... AFTER AN 82... ANOTHER B... LAST TIME.

AND FINALLY... NU-WAY WEINERS AT 60-16 ZEBULON ROAD IN MACON... SCORED A 73... THAT'S A C... COMING AFTER AN 88... OR B... LAST TIME.

NOW FOR A LOOK THE TOP SCORES OF THE WEEK... AND THIS WEEK'S GODLEN SPATULA WINNER...

EL SOMBRERO MEXICAN RESTAURANT AT 6-10 NORTH AVENUE IN MACON SCORED A 97... AN "A"... AFTER A PERFECT 100... LAST TIME.

GOLDEN CORRAL AT 47-04 PRESIDENTIAL PARKWAY IN MACON WHIPPED UP TWO PERFECT 100'S ON THEIR LATEST INSPECTIONS.

AND 18-42 INN AT 353 COLLEGE STREET IN MACON... SERVED UP TWO PERFECT SCORES... ON THEIR LATEST TWO INSPECTIONS.

WE AVERAGED OUR NOMINEES PAST 5 SCORES.. AND THIS WEEK'S GOLDEN SPATULA GOES TO...

THE 1842 INN... WITH A 5-SCORE AVERAGE OF A 99 POINT 2.

CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE OVER AT 1842 INN.
FOR ALL YOUR BIBB AND HOUSTON COUNTY RESTAURANT RATINGS... GO TO OUR WEBSITE 13WMAZ DOT COM.
UNDER THE FEATURES TAB... YOU'LL SEE RESTAURANT RATINGS.

DOZENS OF MACON KIDS RODE AWAY ON A SLIGHTLY EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT THIS AFTERNOON.

PAUSE FOR NATS-SINGING

THE GROUP AT THE SECOND ANNUAL BIKE-O-RAMA ENJOYED A COUPLE OF CHRISTMAS CAROLS BEFORE 71 KIDS GOT THEIR NEW WHEELS.
JAMES TAYLOR ORGANIZES THE EVENT...WITH THE HELP OF DONATIONS FROM CHURCHES... FRIENDS.....AND OTHER GROUPS.
ORGANIZERS CHOSE CHILDREN BASED ON NEED... AND FAMILY CIRCUMSTANCES.
MOTHER TOMEKIA WILDER SAYS HER SON WAS SO EXCITED TO GET HIS NEW WHEELS... HE NEARLY LEFT HER IN THE DUST.


Tomekia Wilder, Macon: "The kids are happy and they're going to enjoy the bikes. My son just took off on his, so he might just drive himself home."

TAYLOR SAYS HE HOPES TO GIVE OUT EVEN MORE BIKES NEXT YEAR.

AND ONE LAST QUICK LOOK AT TOMORROW'S FORECAST WITH CHIEF METEOROLOGIST BEN JONES.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.... WEEKEND MORNIN COMES YOUR WAY AT 7 A-M.
THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

LETTERMAN'S NEXT.
HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.

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